Sebastian Inshore Fishing Report and Forecast: May 2017

Snook numbers seem to be way up in the Sebastian area. Photo credit: Capt. Gus Brugger.

The warm weather this winter and spring could make the fishing in May more like summertime fishing than that of late spring. This will mean that Sebastian Inlet and the nearshore Atlantic waters should offer more opportunities than usual, while die hard backwater anglers will need to focus on the lagoon early and late in the day. May is a big fish month, with double-digit snook and tarpon available from the fresh waters of the upper Sebastian River out to the beaches. If you like having your picture taken with big fish, spend some time in Sebastian this May.

Sebastian River

Late spring is “the season” for the Sebastian River and many of the other freshwater feeders that flow into the Indian River Lagoon. Tarpon and snook of all sizes are at their highest concentrations of the season and they are eager to feed on the variety of baitfish that take up residence in the Sebastian River. Seven- to ten-inch mullet are the most obvious of these baitfish species and are the preferred choice of the larger snook and tarpon in the river. Large topwater and shallow diving plugs are excellent choices after dark around lighted docks. If you can cast net some finger mullet, the tarpon in the north and south forks of the Sebastian River will put on a show before and after you set hook. If finger mullet are hard to find or if you just prefer artificials, small diving plugs, D.O.A. shrimp and TerrorEyz baits will produce snook and tarpon of all sizes throughout the day. This is also the prime time for fly fishermen to stretch their line on the juvenile tarpon in the Sebastian River. Two- to four-inch baitfish patterns in white are the local favorite. Watch the major and minor periods of the solunar table for your best results with Sebastian River tarpon.

The Indian River Lagoon

Some of the largest trout of the year are taken in May, with topwater plugs and jerkbaits being favorite artificial baits.  Snook will continue to be a consistent catch in the lagoon in May. Docks, mangrove shorelines, downed trees and spoil islands will hold snook. D.O.A. shrimp, C.A.L. jigs, and topwater plugs are my favorites to draw strikes from snook in and around cover. Twenty-pound braided line is a must for muscling snook from barnacle encrusted cover.

Sebastian Inlet

Fishing at Sebastian Inlet has been excellent both night and day. Snook numbers seem to be way up in the Sebastian area. Daytime anglers using live croakers and greenies have been scoring on both incoming and outgoing tides around the tips of both jetties. Nighttime boaters drifting live bait and trolling diving plugs are catching good numbers of reds and snook. Land bound anglers are throwing Bucktail, Storm and Tsunami swimbaits and diving plugs with good results after dark. Giant bluefish 10- to 15-pounds made a prolonged appearance at Sebastian Inlet in April and some may still be around to test the drags of jetty anglers this month.

The Near Shore Atlantic

As the winds of April subside, the near shore waters clear and warm attracting a variety of baitfish and the game fish that prey on them. Watch for schools of greenies dimpling the surface or pelicans diving. Tarpon to 150 pounds, big jacks and sharks are usually shadowing these pods of greenies. Sabiki up some greenies and freeline them back out to get the party started.

What I like to do in the near shore waters starting this time of year is slow trolling for king mackerel. Live mullet and/or greenies on a stinger rig slow trolled at between 1.5 and 2.5 knots will catch anything you happen across, especially kingfish to 40 or so pounds.  Another crowd pleaser that happens in May is bonito (little tunny) and everything else that come in shore to gorge on the swarms of glass minnows that generally make an appearance in the late spring and early summer. It is a true blitz with Spanish mackerel and bonito taking small flies, plugs and jigs up top while tarpon, kingfish, jacks and sharks hang underneath eating the greenies and other baitfish that come to eat the scraps left over by the surface predators. This is a great opportunity for fly fishermen to catch everything from one-pound Spanish to 100-pound tarpon and sharks.

Tight lines.

FORECAST BY: Capt. Gus Brugger
Pattern Setter Charters
(772) 589-0008

Capt. Gus came to the Sebastian area in the mid 1980s and has been a full-time guide since 1992. You can reach Capt. Gus at (772) 589-0008 or by email. To learn more visit the Pattern Setter website.